I know that a hood provides good protection for a lens, so I try to use a hood as much as possible. I also know that a filter increases flare (very much if not multi-coated) and degrades image quality (IQ) a little. However, I think that a filter is like a condom – having no condom is best, but using one is safer.

Originally I wanted to buy B+W F-Pro MRC UV, which is well regarded and used by many people. However, its 46mm filter is quite expensive. Upon reading some reviews, I decided to buy Kenko Pro 1 Digital Protector instead, which is much cheaper from where I purchase filters.

Here’s a few tests I’ve done for the 46mm Kenko Pro 1 Digital Protector on Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4.

Note: These results do NOT apply to the Kenko Pro 1 Digital UV, which is shown to have a serious color cast in another review. The UV is also more expensive than the Protector. They also definitely do NOT apply to any other lines of Kenko filters such as the premium Zeta, L37, or the non-Pro UV, etc.

1. Lens cap fitness: The lens cap can be attached to the filter as expected, no problem.

2. Image Quality (IQ): I got the impression from other reviews that the IQ degradation will be very very low, so I didn’t expect to see a difference. However, at 100% view I find a marginal decrease in saturation/contrast/sharpness. I’m not sure this can be seen with the photos embedded in this post since it is not a 100% view.  In addition, conversion into JPEG has affected the sharpness of the photos, so in JPEG the difference is smaller than what I saw from raw inside Lightroom 4.1.

(Shot using a tripod. IBIS off. The white balance values in Lightroom 4.1 are different for the two photos, so I manually changed them to be the same. All NR 0. Sharpening 30/0.8/25/0. Cropped.)

PL DG 25mm f/1.4 at f/4 with no filter:
Original size: http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/6534235421/download/2049205

Olympus OM-D E-M5, 25 mm, ISO 200, 1/8 sec, f4

 

PL DG 25mm f/1.4 at f/4 with 46mm Kenko Pro 1 Digital Protector:
Original size: http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/6534235421/download/2049204

Olympus OM-D E-M5, 25 mm, ISO 200, 1/8 sec, f4

 

3A. Flare: This is tested using a Mag-Lite as light source. The increase in flare is more than I’ve read from other reviews.

PL DG 25mm f/1.4 with no filter:

Olympus OM-D E-M5, 25 mm, ISO 200, 16/10 sec, f1.4

 

PL DG 25mm f/1.4 with 46mm Kenko Pro 1 Digital Protector:

Olympus OM-D E-M5, 25 mm, ISO 200, 16/10 sec, f1.4

3B. Flare with Kenko on Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6: Since the flare shown above is far more than expected, I checked the effects of attaching a 52mm Kenko Pro 1 Digital Protector to Panasonic 14-45mm. Even without a filter, there is a fair amount of flare, and with the addition of the Kenko filter the flare is slightly increased. (I also had a color test comparison for 14-45mm which is very similar to above, so I’m not showing it again.)

Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 with no filter:

Olympus OM-D E-M5, 16 mm, ISO 200, 32/10 sec, f3.7

 

Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 with 52mm Kenko Pro 1 Digital Protector: (Please ignore the sharpness difference in the sofa – I think I messed up the focus.)

Olympus OM-D E-M5, 16 mm, ISO 200, 32/10 sec, f3.7

 

4. Sharpness anomaly with Olympus M.ZD 40-150mm @ 150mm: I have some test shots which show that with a 58mm Kenko Pro 1 Digital Protector, the saturation is decreased marginally as before, but the sharpness is increased marginally. Although I don’t think it’s caused by an experimental error, I’m not confident that this is always the case. So I just mention it here as FYI only with no photos.

5. Comparison with B+W F-Pro MRC UV: Later I borrowed a B+W filter and tried to find out if the B+W MRC UV is superior to the Kenko Pro 1 Digital Protector. Since I could not reproduce the test setup with the exact same conditions, I’m not showing a comparison photo here. My evaluation is that B+W MRC UV result is incredibly similar to the result of Kenko Pro 1 Digital Protector in all IQ aspects – the flare with 25mm f/1.4 is still there with the B+W. Does this mean the cheaper Kenko is a better buy than the B+W? The answer is “It depends”. It is well known that:

  1. The Kenko Pro 1 Digital is very hard to clean
  2. B+W F-Pro MRC has a coating that is water repellent, making it much easier to clean, and the B+W XS-Pro MRC Nano is even better in that respect (at a premium price)
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